Oral historian Jean Freedman interviewed Laurie Schwab Zabin on April 29, 2001 in Baltimore, Maryland as part of the Jewish Womenâs Archive "Weaving Women's Words" project.
Laurie Schwab Zabin's interest in reproductive health began in a volunteer capacity and then led to a distinguished professional career at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Born in 1926 and raised in Manhattan, Laurie obtained a degree in English literature from Vassar and a master's degree from Harvard. After marrying her first husband, Lewis Straus, in 1948, she came to Baltimore and began studying English literature at Johns Hopkins. A meeting with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1951 prompted a dramatic shift in her professional attention. Beginning as a dedicated volunteer, Laurie became the full-time director of a clinic for reproductive health in downtown Baltimore. She has held a variety of local and national positions with Planned Parenthood and the Alan Guttmacher Institute. Laurie and her husband had three children, Lewis, Jeremy and Jessica. After their divorce, Laurie married James Zabin in 1963. An accomplished and focused visionary, she obtained her Ph.D. in Population Dynamics from Hopkins in 1979 and gained a position at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In 1999, she became Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Laurie stepped down from the Director position in 2002, but continues to serve on the faculty, maintaining an active work and travel schedule.
Laurie Schwab Zabin photo: Credit Joan Roth. Joan Roth's website
In the early 2000s, the Jewish Women's Archive conducted oral history interviews with 30 Jewish women living in Baltimore and another 30 in Seattle. Born in the early decades of the 20th century, these women lived through decades of political, social, and economic upheaval, as well as dramatic changes in expectations and opportunities for women. Doctors and lawyers, teachers and saleswomen, judges and social workers, homemakers and community volunteers, the narrators represent a wide range of backgrounds, affiliations, and experiences of American Jewish women. To find out more and to see the online exhibits based on this project, visit Jewish Women's Archive/baltimore and Jewish Women's Archive/seattle
The complete audio recordings and transcripts of the interviews are available on the Internet Archive.
This project was made possible in part by major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Brenda Brown Lipitz Rever Foundation, and the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, Inc. In Baltimore, the project was a collaboration with the Jewish Museum of Maryland; in Seattle, with the Museum of History and Industry.